Biden Announces End of COVID-19 National and Public Health Emergencies; Impacts on Medicare and Medicaid Beneficiaries
On Jan. 30, President Joe Biden announced that his administration would end the COVID-19 national and public health emergencies on May 11, giving a promised 60-day notice. The ending of both crises will have an effect on several measures adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as emergency extra money for Medicaid and the Title 42 immigration policy.
Vaccines have been required by the CARES Act at no cost during the PHE, though plans must continue to cover COVID-19 Vaccines at no cost as preventive care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, Medicare beneficiaries may face cost-sharing requirements for certain COVID pharmaceutical treatments after May 11, as well as out-of-pocket costs for at-home COVID testing.
Thanks to the passing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, Medicare patients will still be able to take advantage of some of the telehealth coverage granted during the pandemic until the end of the following year. The amendment includes an expansion of the kinds of healthcare professionals who are able to offer telemedicine. Privately-owned plans usually keep the authority to choose which telehealth services they will pay for.
The end of the public health emergency will also put vulnerable populations, such as low-income residents, at risk of losing Medicaid health insurance and food benefits. Additionally, state Medicaid programs will keep covering the cost of COVID tests ordered by providers and vaccines, meaning patients will not have to pay anything for those items.
The Biden administration is planning to roll out a roadmap as early as Thursday on what it will mean for the country when the Covid-19 public health emergency comes to an end later this year. The goal of the expected roadmap is to try to lay out for the public in a clear way what the end of the declaration “does and does not mean,” including for various stakeholders like state health departments and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
At his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Biden declared that America has “broken Covid’s grip” with the Covid-19 pandemic. The President remarked, “Let’s also recognize how far we’ve come in the fight against the pandemic itself,”
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